|The Noorderlich in MapCrunch|
Playing this impromptu game is simple. Visit MapCrunch, or any website like it, to be placed on the streets of a random place in the world. Be sure to click the "stealth" box to hide any geographical data. Then, with just your wits, using road signs and your innate sense of direction, find your way to an international airport, your imaginary way home.
The simple game is joined by others, most recently by GeoGuessr, a website that similarly places you into a random location via Google street view. Then, with another map on the right, you guess your location in the world. The closer your guess is to your actual location, the more points you earn that round. After several hops around the globe, your final score measure how well you can glean information about the world through signage, iconography, plant and animal life, and architecture.
|Nevada summer in GeoGuessr|
When you place a game context over this experience, the mundane reality of a dessert in Nevada or a seaside village in Italy takes a new significance. This is not just online sightseeing, these games challenge you to look at the world a new way. They demand it. Simple advertisements become riddles, decipherable texts that convey though foreign script a clue that matters only to you. A movie poster, a type of VW Bug, the symbols for a crosswalk, they could all reveal something about their location. A nice house around a corner could hint at a larger town nearby, and maybe signs for a highway or a tourist center.
|A world in transition; Nevada in winter|
Above all else, these games feed an innate curiosity that stirs up an antithetical desire to stop playing, turn off your computer, go outside, and explore our world.